Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Parametric Shadowbox Panels

Revit’s curtain wall tool is great in the fact that the actual glass/panel size interactively adapts to the size and configuration of the surrounding mullions. Wherever the curtainwall profile’s shape crosses the Center Front/Back reference plane, in the Profile-Mullion family, the panel is terminated.  That is a great solution when there is only a lite of glass or a panel surrounded by the mullions, but what do you do when a curtain wall panel includes a shadow box or insulation?  Those elements often don’t match the same extents that the glass or panel (see below) and may vary with the mullion conditions. 

Should a shadow box be created as a generic object as inserted separately?  That may be a viable solution, but it could also be time consuming.  This tutorial explains a method of incorporating the shadow box into the panel family and adding parameters to control the perimeter offsets.

1.  Start by opening the Curtain Wall Panel.rft template file.

2.  For this exercise, we’ll use a 1” monolithic glass element, but this can be as complex and detailed as you like.  Use the Extrusion tool and create a 1” thick rectangle in the Floor Plan view.  While still in the Create Extrusion mode dimension the thickness and lock the dimension then click the Finish Edit Mode tool in the Modify | Create Extrusion panel.


3.  Drag the left, right, and front grips to the corresponding reference planes and lock them.  This ensures that the glass maintains a constant thickness and flexes to match the extents created by the vertical mullions.

4.  In the Exterior elevation view, drag the top and bottom grips to the corresponding reference planes and lock them as well.  This ensures that the glass flexes to match the extents created by the horizontal mullions.


5.  We are going to set the initial offset distance for the shadowbox at 1 3/8” on the top and bottom and 1 1/2” on the sides.  These will be adjustable through the use of parameters.  Start by creating offset copies of the existing reference planes inward, as described.  This is done a bit differently than the procedure used to offset lines.  Instead of using the Offset tool, click Create > Reference plane from the Ribbon, click the Pick Lines icon, enter the Offset value, then hover over the existing reference plane, slightly inward until you see the ghosted ref plane to be created, then click.


6.  Dimension the distances from the original reference planes to the offset reference planes but do not lock the dimensions.

7.  Select one of the dimensions, click the Label drop down menu and choose <Add parameter>.

8.  In the Parameter Properties dialog box that opens, choose Family Parameter, enter a descriptive name, select Instance (so the value can change for each infill occurrence as needed) and select a group that the parameter will appear in, and then click OK.

9.  The parameter appears with the default value.

 10.  Repeat the process with the remaining dimensions, giving each a unique name.

11.  In the Floor Plan view, create a rectangular extrusion within the offset reference planes and behind the glass – this is the shadowbox panel.  While still in the Create Extrusion mode, dimension the thickness of the panel and lock the dimension. Click the Finish Edit Mode icon when you are done.

12.  Add a dimension from the Front reference plane to the front face of the panel and adjust the dimension as required.  If necessary, this could also be a parameter driven distance if it may vary over the course of the project.

13.  In the Front view, select the panel, drag the grips to each of their respective offset reference plans and lock them.

14.  Save the family then load it into a project containing a curtain wall then replace some existing panels with the new panel.  Note how the shadow box panel may not align properly with the sides of the mullions.

15  Select one of the panels and the parameters that were created appear in the Properties panel.  Select and adjust the parameters as required.


As you can see, creating adjustable shadow boxes as components of curtainwall panels is a simple and straightforward procedure and a similar procedure would be used to incorporate insulation into the panel family. By investing a little prep time, you could save a good amount of labor down the road.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Adding Cross-X Lines to Unitized Panel Families

In a unitized curtain wall system, when looking at an elevation view, it isn’t always easy to determine the extents of any particular unit.  This can be even more difficult with the introduction of doors, windows, L-shaped units and  false-stack conditions.  By adding dashed lines, called cross-X lines, to the extents of the unit, it becomes easier to determine the limits of each unit.  This tutorial will cover adding cross-X lines to a Curtain Panel family in Revit.

 The cross-X lines need to appear in elevation and 3D views and flex as the unit flexes to accommodate changes in height and width.  In the Curtain Panel family, we’ll start with a typical 3-lite unit and add the model lines.

1.  Model lines are drawn in the current reference plane.  In the plan view, either ensure that the Front reference plane is at the front of the unit or create a new reference plane.

2.  Switch to the Exterior elevation view.  In the Create tab, click the Set Work Plane button on the Work Plane panel to open the Work Plane dialog Box.

3.  In the Work Plane dialog box, select the Name radio button then select the reference plane that corresponds with the front of the unit.  Click the OK button.

4.  Click the Model Line tool.  Draw a line across the surface of the unit; the ends should be near the unit extents but do not place them precisely yet.

5.  Zoom in to one corner of the unit.  Select the model line to expose the grip then drag the grip to the corner of the unit.  The line may attempt to restrict the endpoint’s position to remain along the same vector as the line.  If necessary, press the Tab key to allow a 360 degree freedom of movement.  When the Endpoint grip highlights, release the mouse button.

6.  When the lock icon appears, click it to lock the endpoint of the model line to the element that was snapped to.
7.  Repeat the process at the opposite corner.

8.  Repeat the process for the model line that runs in the opposite direction.

The cross-X lines should appear different than the continuous lines.  In this case, we’ll assign them to the Hidden linetype.

9.  Select both model lines; this will open the Modify|Lines contextual tab.  Expand the Subcategory drop-down list then choose Hidden Lines (Projection).

10.   Select both model lines again then click the Edit button in the Graphics area of the Properties palette.

11.  In the Family Element Visibility Settings dialog box that appears, uncheck the Plan/RCP and Left/Right options to prevent the cross-X lines from appearing in those types of views. This affects the family when it is loaded into a project and not as it appears in the family editor.  Click OK.

 The unit now has cross-X lines that flex with the constraints of the curtainwall panel and are visible in elevation and 3D views